Selma residents want trash pickup changes thrown out

Selma residents demand the city, Mid Valley Disposal do away with new garbage collection practices, reinstate alley trash pickup to accommodate seniors and disabilities

A Mid Valley Disposal truck as seen in the town of Reedley, California. (Via the Mid Valley Disposal website.)
Serena Bettis
Published July 3, 2024  • 
9:30 am

SELMA – Less than a day after Mid Valley Disposal (MVD) officially took control of garbage collection services in Selma, residents are dissatisfied with the new contractor.

Fifteen residents spoke out against Mid Valley Disposal’s plan to move away from alley pickup during open public comment at the Selma City Council meeting July 1, citing physical and logistical challenges that hinder their ability to comply with the operational change. The council took no action on the complaints but did say MVD representatives will join the next council meeting to discuss these issues.

“My garbage has been in the alley since I’ve lived there, over 20 years,” resident Kelly Guerra said. “I’m disabled and … I’m not supposed to lift more than five pounds. … I do not and will not put my garbage in the front. It was not in the contract and is only being requested by certain board members. Our city manager: many seniors and disabled people cannot do this, and shame on you for pushing this on them.”

Residents were first notified of the change in operation last month as MVD began rolling out new carts and distributing information about their services to prepare for the start of the new contract. At the June 3 council meeting, MVD District Manager Isaac Kulikoff said all residents who previously had their trash picked up in the alleyways behind their homes would need to start putting their bins on the street. 

MVD initiated this change in response to a request from the city, Kulikoff said. 

“We’ve noticed that in some of our communities, it is a hazard because of the tight spaces, the overhead wires, the water meters, things of that nature,” he said. 

Further, alley pickup can make it challenging for MVD to properly identify which bins belong to which residence; this is vital for compliance with waste sorting and disposal mandates outlined in Senate Bill 1383. Kulikoff said if MVD catches a violation in a trash bin and issues a contamination warning or fine against a resident, they need to ensure they have the correct bin and person. 

After receiving their new bins and the notice of the change, many residents came back to the city council at its June 17 meeting as well to share their concerns about the change; Kulikoff had said approximately 18% of the community was receiving service in their alleys. 

Individuals who are older or disabled spoke about how they do not have the ability to roll their heavy trash, recycling and organics bins out to the front of their house; many said they are worried that if they do, they could injure themselves or worsen pre-existing conditions. Some residents do not have driveways that face out front to the street — or at all — meaning they would have to walk around half a block to set out their bins. 

Additionally, residents who live on busier streets or near schools said they do not think it will be safe for garbage trucks to pick up their trash considering traffic conditions and the number of cars parked along the road. Residents said this is exactly why their trash has been picked up in the alleys, and they have not had any problems with it for decades.

One resident, Stella Ramirez, questioned how the city is going to protect residents who are impacted by this and entitled to accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

“The ADA protects individuals with disabilities — a disability that substantially limits major life activities — and protects those people with public accommodations,” Ramirez said. “Therefore, moving heavy trash cans to the front street falls under this law.”

MVD has agreements with other cities, such as Orange Cove, that explicitly include accommodations for senior citizens or people with disabilities. The contract with MVD approved by the Selma City Council and included in the Dec. 4, 2023, council meeting packet has no specific mention of the ADA; however, it does state MVD must at all times “comply with all applicable laws, including the laws and regulations of the United States.”

Residents were adamant that they want an answer as to why this change was requested by the city at the next council meeting on July 15. Many said they would continue to voice their opposition to the operations and one resident circulated a petition to change back to alley pickups. 

Serena Bettis
General Assignment Reporter